Liberal Catholicism: Requiescat in Pace

With the dust settling on the uproar which followed the Vatican’s April intervention into the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), it’s possible to put this and other emerging trends into a longer-term perspective. The blustering reaction of the LCWR and supporters such as the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof (whose grasp of rudimentary Catholic teaching is, well, rudimentary) confirms what’s been apparent for some time: that it’s almost “game-over” for self-identified liberal or dissenting Catholics. (More detail on the LCWR can be found in this recent Crisis article.)

The demographic evidence for impending extinction is striking. The average age of members of female religious orders that are moving “beyond Jesus” into an alternative spiritual universe is over 70. This contrasts with those orders who joyfully embrace Catholic faith in all its fullness. They’re positively flourishing. Similarly, it’s very hard to find dissenters among seminarians – also growing in numbers – and priests below 50.

The dissenters’ replication challenge, however, goes beyond the clergy. It also affects laypeople. Many self-described liberal Catholics have either raised their children to think and act more-or-less like liberal Protestants (another fast-disappearing species), or they’ve decided their children should be “free to make up their own minds” about religious matters.

Of course, the latter position isn’t as neutral as it sounds. As the philosopher J. Budziszewski writes, “declining to teach [the faith] is itself a way of teaching.” Among other things, he adds, it tells children that what their parents think about God is unimportant, and that reflecting adequately about God requires no theological or philosophical formation. Hence, no-one should be surprised that many who grow up in such families end up knowing or caring little about Catholicism.

A second symptom of liberal Catholicism’s internal crisis is the increasingly strange character of the positions advocated by prominent dissenters. You see this in their frantic efforts to absolutize subjects that are mostly prudential (such as economic policy) for Catholics, while clumsily attempting to relativize those truly non-negotiable matters. Hence they end up hurling anathemas at Congressman Paul Ryan while simultaneously supporting entities such as “Catholics for Sebelius.”

But perhaps the biggest factor driving dissenting Catholicism’s perceptible crack-up is its embrace of an error excoriated by Blessed John Henry Newman in his 1879 biglietto speech. Describing it as the “great apostasia,” Newman defined “the spirit of liberalism in religion” in the following terms:

“Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another. . . . [it holds that] Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy.”

Needless to say, you won’t find such notions contained in any document promulgated at Vatican II. But close inspection soon indicates they lurk just beneath the surface of many dissenters’ writings. Whether it’s biblical exegesis, moral theology, or ecclesiology, their doubts about Catholicism’s truth-claims are manifest. Revelation and reason are out. Skepticism and feelings are in.

Unfortunately for dissenters, embracing “liberalism in religion” has rendered them largely impotent when it comes to doing what dissenting Catholics invariably claim to value – engaging modernity. For given their palpable unease with Catholicism’s unique truth-claims (which, by definition, can’t be whatever you want them to be), many dissenters are reduced to affirming various social and political causes as “anonymously Christian” developments. 

So what are some likely results of dissenting Catholicism’s accelerating meltdown?

One is that Catholics in the West will increasingly fall into one of two categories. They will either be (1) quite orthodox on matters of faith and morals and trying, despite sin, to live the Church’s teaching; or (2) more-or-less totally detached from the Church, living lives indistinguishable from secularists. Slowly but surely, the mushy-middle is emptying out.

Another development will be what’s already obvious to many in Europe and North America: the on-going emergence of a clergy happy to articulate Catholicism’s specific truth-claims and who do so in an intelligent, joyful way. It’s partly a self-selective process. There’s no conceivable reason why anyone in the West today would become a priest or religious unless they truly believed the Church’s teaching and wanted to invite others to see its truth.

Yet another, less fortunate trend will be the relentless secularization of many nominally Catholic universities and hospitals as their token links with the Church continue to fray and weaken. And that will render irrelevant the power to which many dissenters cling in these Catholic institutions for the simple reason that no-one will regard such organizations as Catholic in any meaningful way. 

But here’s the good news. If Church history teaches us anything, it’s that periods of decline in the Church’s life are often followed by phases of renewal. The corruption, scandals and heresies (sound familiar?) which sparked the Reformation were followed by the evangelical energies unleashed by the Council of Trent and Counter-Reformation that took Christ’s message literally to the ends of the earth. Likewise, the Church’s abasement at the hands of philosophes, Jansenists, Febronists, absolutist monarchs, and French revolutionaries during the eighteenth century was followed by nineteenth-century Catholicism’s profound spiritual revival, a rejuvenation which produced giants such as Thérèse of Lisieux, a saint and doctor of the Church.

That the Church needs a similar revitalization is obvious, not least because when dissenting Catholics say the Church needs to engage the modern world, they’re absolutely right. There’s no going back to an idealized pre-1960s past which, on closer examination, often turns out to be less-wonderful than hitherto assumed.

To evangelize modernity, however, means Catholics not only need to understand but also critique it and convert it to the fullness of the truth of which the modern world is but a pale shadow. Fortunately, in the teachings of Vatican II, Paul VI, Blessed John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, we have a road-map for precisely such an engagement: a path obscured for decades by the dissenting generation’s equivocations and hang-ups. Embracing this way of proceeding is crucial, especially if the Church is to reach those nominal Catholics who are in many ways the victims of three generations of non-catechesis in the faith.

In the meantime, watch for escalating incoherence from dissenting Catholics as they fade from the scene. Judging from the “beyond Jesus” nuns’ reaction to some simple home-truths about just how far they have wandered from the Catholic faith, it won’t be pretty. But that’s all the more reason to pray for them. For no matter how great our intellectual and moral errors, the Truth can set anyone free. 

Samuel Gregg


Samuel Gregg is Research Director at the Acton Institute. He has authored many books including, most recently, For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good (2016).

  • steve5656546346

    It certainly is true that you will find no endorsement of “liberalism in religion” (warned against by Newman) in the documents of Vatican II!

    However, you will find positive, optimistic statements concerning other religions–and even the secular man apart from religion.  Whether or not that CAUSED the further advance of liberalism in religion, it certainly was not effective in retarding its spread (if that was the goal).

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  • Kelsonus

    I hope it’s dying out and taking the corrupted Social Justice  theme and Pro-Choice sophistry  with it

  • Mrm201

    It is sad that such self-righteous Catholics would rejoice that moderate and liberal catholics are being driven out of the church.  Religious women, in particular, largely adhere to the doctrines of the church and provide intelligent and compassionate services even at the age of 65 or 70 or 75.  To face their declining years with such an aggressive insult to their collective dedication and wisdom is a kind of clerical and magisterial decadence unprecedented in our lives.

    • Sdfs

      “moderate and liberal catholics ”
      “adhere to the doctrines of the church ”
      You got a contradiction there.

      • The categories ‘moderate’ and ‘liberal’ -like ‘traditional’- apply to interpretations of the doctrines of the church, not to how far one accepts them.

        • Fides_et_Ratio

          Some LCWR members ignore crystal-clear Catholic teaching, such as the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

    • They are not being driven out – they drive themselves out.

      • John200

        Agree, we are merely acknowledging what has already happened to them.

    • Zuzana

      We must first understand that people do compassionate and good things for many reasons… even liberal secularists… even avowed atheists.  BUT for a Catholic, the energy and desire to do good is in response to the call of God to abandon the reasoning of the world, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to serve God by serving others.  What sets Mother Theresa apart from the ‘Religious women’ I think that you are referring to, is that she made it clear that she did not take care of the poorest of the poor because of her love and compassion for them… but because of her unmitigated love of GOD. 

    • chrisinva

       It might clarify things to observe that it is the self-righteous dissenters who are rebelling against the Church. No one **within** the Church is driving them away — but temptations to abandon the Church and her teachings have abounded since the time of the Apostles.

      That the Church eventually responds, in charity, truth, and infinite patience, should not surprise. Many find it refreshing and assuring. After all, if you actually read the Vatican II Decree Perfectae Caritatis, on the religious life, you will find there the rather sensible requirement that the religious bodies, congregations, and orders that are created with the official blessing of the Church are also expected to be subject to the Church with regard to discipline and accountability. Admittedly, that doesn’t jive with the “spirit” of Vatican II (which does not exist, except in dissenting imaginations), it’s the actual letter.

    • Gertie

      “…moderate and liberal catholics are being driven out of the church.”

      Really? Seems to me they have the car keys and are doing the driving themselves — albeit while all the time screaming at the stupid government officials who created all these inane driving laws like speed limits and stoplights.

      To be more direct, each one of us has the option to be faithful to the magisterium of the Church, or not. But no “orthodox” or “conservative”  Catholic is standing at the doors to your local parish denying admittance to anyone deemed “unorthodox” or “liberal.” I personally think that calling myself a Roman Catholic requires something of me — that whole carrying one’s cross thing, and dying to self, and “if you love me, keep my commandments,” and “I call you the rock, and on this rock I will build my Church.”

      “…an aggressive insult to their collective dedication and wisdom is a kind of clerical and magisterial decadence…”

      Hmmm, a little problem with hierarchy of the Church there? If you actually take the time to read the document (and yes, I have), you will see that these women are praised for their selfless giving to all kinds of service ministries. Not sure where you’re finding the “aggressive insult” of which you speak.

    • Captain_DG

      I don’t think “driven out” is the right characterization.  Neither is faithful service at issue.  

    • Scott W

      They are not “being driven out of the church”.  If they are not in the Church, it is because many left long ago.  All who love the world, the ways of the world (particularly the dogmas of the sexual revolution which is what is really t issue, right?), and ultimately do not repent, then they are not of Christ and his body the Church.

  • Timotheos

    As members of the Church Militant, we need, more than ever in our lives, to sharpen our “spiritual bayonets” and to keep our eyes fixed on the fact that, in the end, we win!” 🙂

  • Brtimcfc

    I feel there’s an injustice being done to the American Sisters here.  There’s nothing in the Vatican’s comments that says the Sisters of the LCWR have ever taught anything that is contrary to “religious truths” as the author names them.  The “Catholic faith in its fullness” is expressed in the Creed and the Sisters are not being faulted for lack of support of  anything in the Creed. 
    In the history of the Church there have always been nebulous times involving certain moral issues, especially when new issues arise.  Who knew about cloning fifty years ago?  What happened to Galileo?  What defines “natural” means of birth control?
    For me the author is hitting all the wrong buttons in this article.  What he purports as essential teachings of the Catholic Church may not really be such and he might need a lesson in the Catholic Church’s teachings on Social Justice which I do not view as “simple home-truths.”

    • Mickey Blarney

      How about denying the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? How about being pro-abortion and pro-same-sex marriage? How about the keynote speaker at the LCWR annual conference being a New Age pantheist? Not all, of course, but many of the LCWR members, especially the leadership, have not only drifted away from Catholicism, they’re not even Christian anymore. “Not taught anything contrary”? Oh please.

      • Cal

         You never went to an LCWR meeting, but you write like you have them all figured out.  Intellectual balderdash.  Shut up.

        • Scott W

          Liberals are nice people so long as they think you are one of them or so long as they are confident that their side is in charge.  Cal is a liberal who knows his side has lost.  But be of good cheer Cal, you may have lost Christ’s Church, but you always have what passes for American culture today.

          • Jason

            I recommend reading this nice summary of the various members of the LCWR and their apparent support for abortion, women’s ordination, contraception, and homosexual “marriage”.  I don’t judge any of them, but their public support for these issues are tragic – and not denied by the women listed:

          • John200

             Cal will not ‘always’ have any such American culture. He does not really have it now. He is, to use a liberal cliche in the most effective way, …

            “on the wrong side of history.”

            •  This whole catholic business is phoney. Nothin but another false religion. You guys are waistin your ever lovin time

              • John200

                Good grief, dear pot, you are calling the kettle black.

                If you think Catholicism is phoney, then YOU are the one wasting your time.

              • 2cents

                ignore the troll

        • “Shut up”.  Best counter-argument of all time.  Well done sir.

    • dot Komo

      I would urge you to review the following post, for a small flavor of the excesses of the LCWR:

    • The ‘sisters’ I have known in the last decades such as the ‘weavers of change’ with their so-called ‘social justice’ agenda….were heterodox secular women. Scary women in fact.  You would not see them as daily Masses or any devotions such as adoration or wearing a habit because “we don’t do that any more”.  But since they still have a left over respect from when ‘religious sisters’ were women who considered themselves brides of Christ and acted like it, they did MUCH damage.  And, of course, they are all aging rapidly and no one is following in their steps. The young women who truly want a religious life are finding their way to faithful orders to live a challenging consecration.

      • Cal

         This is hateful generalization.  Crap.  Shut up.

        • Calgetagrip

           Cal does the truth frighten you so much that you need to tell everyone to shut up?

        •  Again, a brilliant reply.  “Crap.  Shut up.”  All this intellectual rigor is starting to go above my head…smaller words please!  😉

        • 2cents

          PLEASE ignore the troll

        • Fides_et_Ratio

           Please stop proving that you have no real arguments.
          Please stop telling people to shut up and start debating.

      • Athelstane

        In this regard, I can’t help but note that many of the media articles – I can think of the Washington Post, Salon and Huffington Post of the top of my head – treating the LCWR reform announcement made use of photos depicting women religious in full traditional habits, usually engaged in some traditional devotion or at mass.  

        The reality of a typical LCWR order sister today is, sadly, quite different.  But perhaps showing septuagenarian women in pantsuits attending a social justice conference or practicing Rieki would not generate the same kind of sympathy. (And no, this is not all that LCWR order sisters do; but it is much more typical of them than the anachronistic photos being used, which would be far more relevant to a story on CMSWR orders.)

    • Zuzana

      While this is indeed tangental, “What happened to Galileo?” I ask you.  Over the years I have been amazed by the answers that uninformed people give to that question.  Most people think that the Church had Galileo executed… burnt at the stake!  He actually lived out his days in house arrest in a palace, waited on by servants and allowed to carry on his experiments, all paid for by the Pope, who was a personal friend.  The truth of the story begins when Galileo had an audience with the Pope where he used his mechanical model to show how the Earth orbited around the Sun.  The Pope did not dispute with Galileo about this, since Copernicus’ findings were already accepted.  However, when Galileo claimed that the Earth was not the center of the Universe, the Pope responded by asking what was the center and how Galileo could prove it.  ?????  The Pope ordered  Galileo not to promote or publish anything regarding the Earth not being the center of the Universe.  Galileo did not listen and published his theories about the center of the Universe.  That’s what caused an Inquisition and  landed Galileo in the palace.  

      • J17ghs

        Thanks for your historically accurate response, not the usual propaganda peddled by Marxists. Also, Pope Gregory based on science gave us the present day calender adjustment — jumping ahead 10 days (or so, can’t remember exactly) centuries ago. The Soviets didn’t admit to the science until the early 20the century!

      •  But Christ leads the catholic church. He must like inquisitions and snuffing out scientific truths. Because Christ  is the leader of the CC-

        • Larry

           You’re kidding, right?  Tell me you’re kidding – please?  The Catholic church snuffing out scientific truths? Then how about:
          Monsignor Georges Lemaître? Roger Bacon?Descartes?Louis Pasteur?Enrico Fermi?Bede, the Venerable?Robert Grosseteste?All sound scientific minds – all discoverers of scientific truths.Oh, by the way – all Catholic.

      • Bob Foley

        Something else not mentioned is that Galileo declared as a FACT that the Sun was the center of the UNIVERSE, not just one solar system among many.  Now if the Church had bought that hook line and sinker, wouldn’t that be exhibit A to all those who would claim the Church to be in error?!  You’re quite right Zuzana, the story of Galileo is largely untold.  Galileo did not invent the heliocentric THEORY; that was Coprenicus; a Polish priest!  Galileo  wanted in his arrogance for the Church to rewrite Scripture to reflect his newly found facts.  The problem was his inability to support his position with real scientific facts to address the problems with his position. 

  • Zuzana

    I was a Religion major at the Univ. of Denver in early 1970s; originally a Methodist school, next to the campus of Iliff Methodist Seminary.  Most of my professors were Methodist, but I took a class, 20th Century Catholicism, taught by an ex-priest (he said).  Almost all of my classes that studied Christianity were of a liberal ilk… AND as a typical sponge-headed-young person, I soaked it up.  BUT when I married, had children and began to read church history, traditional theology and literature for myself… I realized just how ‘stupid’ and ‘mushy headed’ all the liberal propaganda was.   The crisis of our time is, in every major field of importance (religion, morality, education, arts and sciences, politics and government) the result of the liberal secularization of these institutions.  The Catholic Church will not only survive, but flourish, because it is The One, Holy and True universal institution.  It doesn’t look too good, however, for everything else in the Empire that is, or was, the USA.   

  • The Church offers a welcome to all; no one is ever driven out of it. However, many leave because they can no accept its teaching. And when the Church explains that it can not change its teaching – because it has no authority to do so – many feel they are being excluded by the Church. This is not the case. They are excluding themselves by refusing to accept the teaching.

    • Father, to be unable to accept something is not equivalent to refusing it. Refusing implies choice, but if one simply does not think that something is true they cannot choose to think it is. That’s a crucial part of the definition of truth- that it does not bend to one’s choice.

      • Zuzana

        Peter, I’m sorry, but: To think that something is not true IS to make a choice.  Refusing implies choice no more than being unable to accept something.  What I hear in your statement is… that you think that a person’s choice to refuse should never have to ‘bend’ to the absolute of truth.  Fr Levi’s point that the Church does not have the authority to change its teaching is never ascended to by those who believe in the relativism of today’s liberal agenda.

    • Sandra

      Of course the Church has authority to change and grow and respond. Either that or the work of Holy Spirit is being limited. The CCC teaches that revelation is ongoing. From the very beginning the Church has been given gifts of discernment and growing clarity. St Peter himself changed from demanding Gentiles follow traditions to understanding the Holy Spirit was being given to them (even without the Church’s permission. hmm) When the Church, meaning the people in the pews and the Bishops and the Pope, stop being open to change then the work of the Holy Spirit has been cut off.

      • Nick From Detroit

        “The CCC teaches that revelation is ongoing.”

        The Catechism teaches no such thing. All public revelation ended with Christ, and the preaching of His Gospel by the Apostles. Revelation ended with the death of Saint John the Apostle.

        From the CCC, Para. 65-67 & 73:

        “In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word – and he has no more to say. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behavior but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty. […] The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. […] God has revealed himself fully by sending his own Son, in whom he has established his covenant for ever. The Son is his Father’s definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him.” 

        God Bless!

  • Steven Dillon

    So much the worse for Catholicism, its liberal side was its last chance at getting taken academically seriously.

    • Calgetagrip

       Yeah I’m sure Pope Benedict is worried about what the academy will think. They are not the purveyors of truth just political ideology.  Which i’m sure you approve of.

      • Steven Dillon

        I’m not sure attacking academia is making your position look any better 😉

        • Calgetagrip

           The academy today is about political ideology not seeking truth…this story sure has brought the liberal trolls out of the woodwork..Steve go back to the Huffington post where you belong..

          • Steven Dillon

            I doubt we’re on the same page.

            • Chiyo

              Doesn’t look like y’all are even reading the same paper.

    • Freepower14

      Catholics started academia.  Pope Benedict is a world renowned theologian.  I could go on and on.  This comment is beyond silly.

      • Steven Dillon

        I think what’s beyond silly is that you said Catholics started academia when Aristotle had an academy up and running some 400 years before Jesus was born. Oops.

        • Guest II

          You are both wrong.  The Groves of Academe originally were Plato’s, not Aristotle’s.  Freepower is right, of course, to suggest the Catholic Church is responsible for universities.

          • Freepower14

            I was imprecise with my words, I did indeed mean universities. Thanks for pointing this out. 

          • Steven Dillon

            I didn’t mean to suggest Aristotle made Academia, only that Catholics clearly didn’t since Aristotle’s academy preceded it by hundreds of years.

    • John200

      Them ungood and mushy syntacticals of yours just lost your last chance to cure whatever is eating you. But let that pass.

      I assure you Catholicism is taken  very seriously in the universities these days. Lefty just doesn’t like it, but leftism is just about exhausted — as Mr. Gregg wrote above. Did you read the article?

      • Steven Dillon

        You don’t need to assure me, I’m well aware of how serious Catholicism gets taken. Without your liberals, the church will end up in the corner with the other fundies.

        • John200

          You are in error, but it is correctable. Try the more accurate:
          “Without your liberals, the church will end up in the forefront of our culture where it belongs.”

          It seems you did not read the article, or you disagree completely but cannot comment, but let that slide for the nonce.

          • Steven Dillon

            Its relevance to my comments evades me. 

            • John200

              It is time to disengage from you, as you are clearly in troll mode.
              Better luck next time.

              • Steven Dillon


  • Cal

    I read about half of this.  It’s slanted, generalizing, screed.  And wishful thinking.  Who is Samuel Gregg, anyway?  Some ideological guy who can barely write and feels he has to throw things in the face of other Christians who don’t think like he tries to do — and thus he’s decided that they’re an “enemy.”  Shut up!

    • Calgetagrip

       Truth is scary for you Cal?

    •  “Shut up!” he explained.  Three times.  Thank you for your brilliant elucidation.

  • Elcid

    A Spanish priest wrote a book in the 19th century call “Liberalism is a Sin”, you can read it online here:

    • Freepower14

      Liberalism in religion is a sin, liberalism in politics is an are of prudential judgement.

      • Elcid

        Apparently you didn’t read it.

        This excerpt is from Chapter 10…it applies to politics also.

        Liberalism of every degree and all forms has been formally condemned; so much so (53) that outside of the motives of its intrinsic malice, it stands under the formal ban of the Church, which is sufficient for all faithful Catholics. It would be impossible for an error so widespread and so radical to escape condemnation. Upon its appearance in France at the time of the Revolution, the famous Declaration of the Rights of Man, which contains in germ all the follies of Liberalism, was condemned by Pius VI. Later the baneful doctrine infected all the countries of Europe.

        Upon its appearance in France at the time of the Revolution, the famous Declaration of the Rights of Man, which contains in germ all the follies of Liberalism, was condemned by Pius VI. Later the baneful doctrine infected all the countries of Europe.

        • Freepower14

          Oh, I read it.   The Catechism approves many forms of “liberal poltics’ such as the right to unionize, etc.  Representative democracy was condemned by Pius VI as being politically liberal also.  

  • Francis Reilly

    A good article, and all too true. Maybe it could be followed up by an articulate remedial plan. In the Year of the Faith we keep hearing more about catechesis, but we need to work out the mechanisms.

    I don’t quite agree with the statement that ‘there’s no going back to the idealized, pre-1960’s past . . ‘ My own memories of  membership of the Church go back to the late 1930’s and to a
    town near Glasgow in Scotland. The Catholic population there had its roots in a great influx from Ireland in the mid-1800’s. They were sterling, light-hearted, honest and hard-working folk who loved their Church and supported it in every way. I still feel proud and privileged to have spent my younger years as a later part of that group of people.

    There were many converts to the Church in those years, three in my own family. My sister, Kathleen, had a gift — and without trying — of  ‘creating’ converts from among her friends. Regularly, I used to stand and listen to a number of members of  The Legion of Mary who gathered in the centre of Glasgow to respond to questions and criticisms from the public. They were never short of the apposite response and conducted themselves with such impressive demeanor.

    In infant schools we had our Penny Catechism and Bible Narrative, and in High Schools we studied Apologetics, Christian Doctrine, and Moral Philosophy (I still have those volumes today)

    I could go on much more about the Church during those decades, but better not. While, of course, there are new challenges today with new methods of tackling these, we can still take lessons from the past and, at least, not go looking for, and exaggerating, any faults in those pre-Vatican II years. I believe it is not just nostalgia when I say that, in my opinion, in those years (and, no doubt, earlier ones) the Church was in a much better condition.

  • Freepower14

    I think the root problem of liberal Catholicism is its biblical exegesis.  That is, liberals tend to think of the bible as being merely myths.  Specifically, they do not believe that the Gospel records historical event in the live of our Savior.   Its the so called historical-critical method damaged badly Catholic and well as our liberal protestant method.  Many don’t believe that Jesus actually taught the Sermon on the Mount let alone in the Resurrection.  

  • Mouse

    We really need to pray for those older nuns and others  who have apostasized (and I don’t use that term lightly). They will meet Jesus fairly soon.

    Meanwhile, I praise God for the improvements we are seeing in the younger generation.

  • RB2

    The article misses huge things. Persecution will arrive in the way of it being much tougher politically, socially and  realistically for many to be or stay Catholic. Many benchwarmers, the liberals, the fair weather Catholics will flee for the exits, but what will be left behind will be the 1st string, the A team, the devoted crew who wear the cross and live devoted lives. This article just assumes the liberals will be ageing and die off which makes it an article that is consistent and maybe even recycled from those written 10 and 15 years ago.

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  • Hurrah!!!

  • Gail Finke

    Nicely put.

  • givelifeachance2

    The problem is that we are wising up to LCWR only now that they have done their greatest damage – they were responsible for ushering in Obamacare, the linchpin of socialism.  It really doesn’t matter what happens to them, now – they are useful idiots that can now be expended, in the view of the ruling elite.

    In addition to LCWR, a Vatican investigation is need for the corruption at USCCB, also a fifth column vector for Marxism.

    • JTLiuzza

      Agreed.  With regards to the LCWR the US Bishops did nothing and the Holy See got involved a few decades too late.  Pray for the women religious.

      • Athelstane

        This investigation and reform should have been done in 1972, not 2012.  

        But better late than never.  

  • Antoinete

    We shall not go away – we teach and live the faith as Jesus taught – love one another as I have loved you, take care of the poor and those in need.  Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin and others showed us the way.    We will not go away.

    • John200

       You may not have read the article. Nobody wants you to go away. Believing Catholics want these unfortunates to come back.

    • Nick H


      Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, Ceasar Chavez, and other socialist-loving liberals will never be canonized, and their lives are not to be imitated. There are plenty of actual saints from the 20th century whose lives should be imitated. Many of them were killed by marxist-socialists, by the way. 
      Liberal Catholic is an oxymoron.

      “No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true socialist”
      – Pope Pius XI,  Quadragesimo Anno (1931)

  • Sister MA

    There is another story within the story here. There are good, faithful women who belong to these institutes of religious life. They are not in leadership positions, and are really quite powerless and have been marginalized by their superiors. I speak from experience, having entered a community that was over 350 years established and faithful to the Magisterium. I went all through formation (8 years) and took final vows. Five years later, I had to petition Rome and ask for a rescript of vows. What happened? The mother general, duly elected after I had made final vows, made sweeping changes (with the consent of her council) to the constitutions, modernized the habit far beyond the the renewal called for by Perfectae Caritas and/or the Essential Elements of Religious Life. Schools and children’s homes were closed, and sisters went into various types of ministries which were never within the vision of the foundress (an educator). Even the name of the institute was changed! All was done by vote, within the framework of canon law except for the closing of the last school where I was assigned to teach elementary students. In that situation, the local superior (with the support of the regional superior) decided that the sisters should simply walk off the job and abandon the students (and their families) in the middle of the school year. That was the last straw for me. I could not participate in what I believed to be public scandal, and so asked to be released from vows. This was my only choice, as my superiors denied my request to transfer to another institute. I was not the only sister to believe that my community was not being obedient to the Magisterium, but I was the only one to leave for that reason. The others stayed for various reasons – i.e., they could not return to their family or had no family, or they were dependent on the community for healthcare and support due to their advanced age. What do you do if you are 70 or so years old, and the leadership of your community takes you somewhere you did not want to go?    Pray for these few women, living martyrs all!

    Sister Mary Awol

    • JTLiuzza

      God bless all the wonderful and faithful women religious who suffered much. 

    • Zuzana


      God bless you Sister Mary.  You are what I believe is called a ‘white martyr’. No one could  deny how you suffered at the hands of the ‘unfaithful’.  It is also true that your call to be the bride of Christ and your desire to devote yourself to a life of service as a religious sister was killed.
      I will pray for the countless women who have had to remain behind… for their sacrifice is also a white martyrdom. 

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      I have oftened wondered about people like yourself – truly called to serve Christ and his Church as a religious faithful to her vows.  I give you MUCH credit for your integrity and courage.  I also give you credit for the sympathy toward those sisters in more vulnerable dependent positions in their communities and at the mercy of the “leaders” (nazi’s I’d call them) who politicized their religious communities because they had nothing left else on which to focus their energies.

  • Leftism in the Catholic Church degenerates, ultimately, into worship of the self or the (dwindling) community, and then worship of nothing.  I sense that many priests and nuns of the silly generation have something of a sheepish embarrassment when they consider just how many things they did with such obvious incompetence, if not downright bad faith.  Where are the new and vibrant orders they inspired?  They don’t exist.  Where are the great works of art?  Not only did they not produce great art; they were another wave of iconoclasm, and destroyed art, much of it genuinely of the people and of high quality.  Where are the great thinkers and challengers of the follies of the age?  Consider the decades that preceded the Council, and that laid the foundations for it — though not for its distortion, attributable to that ill-defined Ghost of Vatican II.  Those decades gave us Jacques and Raissa Maritain, Christopher Dawson, Etienne Gilson, Francois Mauriac, Ronald Knox, Fulton Sheen, Evelyn Underhill, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Max Picard, Heinrich Boell, Charles DeKoninck, Russell Kirk, Sigrid Undset, Graham Greene, Flannery O’Connor, Romano Guardini, Josef Pieper, Karl Adam, Edith Stein … what have we since?  And what about care for the poor?  The feminist bug eviscerated the teaching orders of nuns — and deprived millions and millions of children, especially the poor, of a decent education.

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  • OBX47

    Let’s hope their is no renewal of this medieval institution that denigrates women.  I, for one, would consider it a positive if the nonsense they preach finally fades away, never to be heard again.  Between their support and cover-ups on behalf of  pedophiles and their insistence that women are nothing but baby machines, I have had enough.  Now they are trying to force their religious beliefs concerning birth control on others, while taking federal tax dollars (mine) to continue their crusade.  I am tired of  the Catholic Church and its bullying.

    • Chiyo

      “Insistence that women are nothing but baby machines”? Beg pardon, but what about the upsurge in numbers of young, celibate women religious? For that matter, what about campaigns to promote abstinence outside of sacramental marriage? Partial-abstinence methods for use within marriage, like NFP? Also, “medieval institution”? You must be thinking of someone else, as we got our start way back in the first century, long before what’s now recognized as the Middle Ages.
      Frankly, as a Catholic woman I must say that the awesome force of my sexuality gets far more respect here than anywhere else. Better luck next time, dear! Here, try doing some actual research. 🙂

      • Rockerbabe

        NFP even for the most dedicated and well educated women have a failure rate of 50% or more.    Most women are not willing to take that chance with an unwanted pregnancy, it cost, the long-term committment, a husband’s objection to more children, etc.   There is a reason for artificial birth control and it has to do with a success rate of 99%. 

  • An absolutely bigoted and absurd post below.  The Catholic Church wants nothing more than that the status quo continue — a status quo amply confirmed by various pieces of legislation signed by President Clinton.  The Church “forces” its beliefs on no one — exactly how could it possibly do that?  It’s as if Quakers, not wanting to be required to sponsor an ROTC program at a Quaker high school, were to be accused of “forcing” its pacifism on others, when exactly the reverse is the case.  Then there are the pedophiles.  The writer seems not to be aware that pedophilia has been more prevalent among other groups than among Catholic priests, and that the loosening standards of sexual morality have turned the whole culture into a sewer.  And the anti-feminism charge: I daresay that in no other institution in history have women been more prominent than they have been in the Catholic Church. 

    Then the tax dollars … Nice extortion racket played by the federal government.  It taxes the hell out of us to fund projects that are not in its purview, then it graciously hands back some of our own money, with all kinds of strings attached — and excuses the strings on the grounds that we are being “given” money that isn’t ours. 

    O secular world — if you could be as just and temperate and clean in your sexuality as Catholic priests are, take them all in all and especially now, then porn wouldn’t be the chief American export to the world, children would be growing up in intact families, mass entertainment wouldn’t be an open sewer, and more than a million unborn American babies every year wouldn’t end up in the biomass dumpster.

  • Goobly gook and a gross failure to understand the nature of progress.   Just because the loudest voices are heard more via the faux media, doesn’t mean the push for progress, social justice, tolerance and respect for women is failing.  No, it is a slow, but decernable march towards and away from the catholic church and its misogynist attitude.

    The nuns are not the problem, never have been and never will be.  They do no have failures, only limited resources and people.   Their emphasis on caring for the poor and sick and often hopeless is not a sign of failure;  they are doing the lord’s work.   The lord’s work does not necessarily include being judas to women who choose make difficult decisions regarding pregnancy and birth control.   Make no mistake, this crap about the nuns has to do with their respect for other women and women’s rights in all aspect of their lives, even if they say little to nothing on the subject.  

    The catholic church has little respect for educated, free-thinking women and men, except to try and get their money away from them.     All things change and that is the nature of life on this planet.   The writer’s glee at a presumed dawn of the “new dark ages” is premature and denies the very nature of our people and the march towards a better life for all – a life lived by their own standards, not whatever the old, never-married men of the catholic church and their ancient wrong-headed attitudes towards women happen to be.

  • And more: OBX accuses the Church of being “medieval.”  That grease spot you see on the wall is where I have been striking my head, wondering when the heck some simple observations will penetrate the consciousness of self-satisfied moderns.  The medieval Church invented the university.  The people of the middle ages revived international economies, and invented the capitalist / credit system we take for granted.  The medieval states were decentralized, and provided plenty of room for freedom for institutions — for chartered towns and guilds and monasteries and schools, for example.  A certain Pictor Ignotus — rather many hundreds of ’em — festooned the churches with art that is more lovely and more human, more delightful to behold, than would be whole museums full of modern “art,” with its deliberate dehumanization and ugliness.  The people of the Middle Ages revived the long-dead art form known as drama — for all intents and purposes, there is no drama from the time of Seneca to the celebrations that arose, among the common people, for the new feast of Corpus Christi, established after the Fourth Lateran Council.  Those common people produced drama that is often of very high quality; without that drama as a cultural foundation and a fruitful seedbed, SHAKESPEARE could never have achieved what he did; that is a plain fact acknowledged by everyone who studies the matter — and Shakespeareans these days are a notably leftist lot.

  • More on “medieval”: Belloc pointed out the stupidity of the “Modern Mind,” impervious to plain observation.  The people of the Middle Ages constructed the most glorious buildings to grace the earth.  What buildings do we produce?  Take a smallish city in the Middle Ages — Siena, San Gimignano, Durham, Beauvais — and compare it, for beauty, for the vibrancy of civic life (yes, I do kn0w about the violence also), for its ample public squares full of people, for its art and poetry and music, with, say, Phoenix (if you can find a real city somewhere in there).

  • Lost what?   Progress marches on and so do the American people.  Nothing has changes in that sense.   It is the catholic church that is stuck in the mud, especially with regard to its misogynistic attitude towards women.   There is little that is wrong with American culture, except that it is laden with too much money, too many low-class men and too much argument about issues that were settled long ago.    What you fail to realize is that there is a “book of relevations” in everyone’s life and it often doesn’t fit at all in the catholic way of doing things.  

    • Athelstane

      “There is little that is wrong with American culture.”

      Now that’s a remarkable claim.

      • Rockerbabe

        American culture is remarkable, if it were not, then why do so many come here from all over the world?   Because they are seeking a better life.  

        We are remarkable in so many ways:  freedom to speak our minds, freedom to vote, freedom to seek a better education for ourselves and our families.  Freedom to worship without fear and restraint and interference from the government or other religious bodies.  

        Americans put men on the moon!   Women are on their way to full citizenship with all of the same rights as men.   Minorities are protected from the majority for the most part.  We are leaders in medical care, science driven policy [irrespective of the merchants of doubt],  transportation, agriculture, education in some areas, sports, military science, peace in our neighborhoods.    We have lots of forms of entertainment, access to diversity in all areas of life.   Sure there are issues, but overall, if you do not like what you see and hear, turn off the TV, turn the channel, etc.   Life here is good.

        • Athelstane

          We have lots of money and nice gadgets. 

          I’ll give you that.

          But I can’t help but think of what Mother Teresa once said: “Don’t call my country a poor country. India is not a poor country. America is a poor country, a spiritually poor country.”

    • JimBeam

      The Catholic Church does not oppress women. The Catholic Church does, however, reject the idea that a woman’s freedom requires taking high doses of artificial hormones, putting a foreign object in her uterus, or undergoing permanent disfiguring surgery in order to suppress her fertility. She also rejects the idea that women’s freedom requires women to be free to kill their own offspring prior to birth.

      If you disagree with this position, and this is a common disagreement, would you at least explain the reasons for it?

      No, women cannot be priests, but they can be anything else in the Church. St. Catherine of Siena even bossed a few weak popes around. Several, including St. Catherine, have been named Doctors of the Church. As Flannery O’Connor once said: “The Church would just as soon canonize a woman as a man and I suppose has done
      more than any other force in history to free women.”

      • Rockerbabe

        What women do with their fertility or lack thereof is NONE of the church’s or the government’s business.  Controlling fertility is and always has been a major force in the life of women throughout the ages.   If it weren’t a big issue, all of the  methods and products would not be on the market today and the demand for better methods goes on.   Despite all the crap and “outrage” the men voice, women just go about getting what they need.   There is absolutely nothing you or the church can do about it or stop it.  

        Pregnancy and motherhood, while more accepted today has been a source of misery, denial of opportunity, abuse and mistreatment,  poverty-ridden endeavor for most of the world’s women throught history.   For unmarried women, even rape and a subsequent pregnancy was a public humiliation and grounds or imprisonment, derision and in some cases banishment [with the church’s blessing].   Women are not immune to wanting their “status” in society to be secure.   The church and its misogynist men have been the cause of so much of the world’s misery.  So many murders, so many rapes, so much torture and imprisonment, denial of medical care, education, property rights, inheritance rights, etc.   It goes on an one.   Freedom for women is not what I call it.

        I am old enough to remember what it was like when abortion was illegal and what happened to young women when they became pregnant.  Lots of over the weekend marriages with a divorce a year or so later, trips to somewhere for an illegal abortion, the medical crisis afterwards,  denial of education by putting women out of school and jobs, no college for women with children, etc.  The “maternity homes” where young women were broken in mind, body and spirits by the nuns and priest who often ran these places.   Please spare me the diatribe about that which you know little about.  

        Women, presently have little to NO effective voice in the catholic church and that is very disrespectful.   The old single men with their ancient ideas about women are not going to change, so that means the rest of us have to change or be as miserable as they are.  

        • JimBeam

          And the solution to misogyny is for women to control their fertility with artificial hormones, by placing foreign objects in the uterus, disfiguring surgery, and the legal right to kill their offspring?

          Sounds more like an accommodation to misogyny than a solution.

        • Athelstane

          What a terrible and jaded view you have of motherhood.  

          • Rockerbabe

            Just because you do not like the societal response to the pregnancies of single women or women in general is not the issue.   Pregnancy is fraught with danger for all women.  Lots of death, disablement, stillbirths, etc.  But women soldier on as they enter into motherhood

        • trapblock

          Does it seem ironic to you that the very same artificial birth control and abortion that you defend are the precise reasons for men’s sexual objectification of women?

          • Rockerbabe

            Men have always objectifed women since the dawn of time.  Women, until recently have been considered “property of the fathers or husbands”.    Women in the past have often been abused, mistreated and denied basic human rights.  Sex trafficing is just the latest incarnation of the white slave trade that has been in operation since the dawn of time.

    • Nick From Detroit1967

      Are you the same Rockerbabe that sometimes posts similar inanities at the AmSpec website?

  • And on “denigrating women”: The writer below  apparently has never read Mulieris Dignitatem or Familiaris Consortio or Casti Conubii.  The fact is, that unless a woman behaves as a man, or as some women suppose that men behave, the feminists consider her worthless.  Pope Paul VI, no conservative, wrote in Humanae Vitae that the ubiquity of the birth control pill would reduce women to objects of sexual pleasure for men, and would help to destroy the sanctum of the family.  He was right about that.  What he didn’t foresee is that women in turn would slouch to the level of bad men, turning their brothers into objects of sexual pleasure.  A question: whatever happened to love poetry?  A tradition that began with the troubadours of medieval Provence seems to have petered out. 

  • Athelstane

    “Fortunately, in the teachings of Vatican II, Paul VI, Blessed John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, we have a road-map for precisely such an engagement.”

    I know that everyone wants to claim Vatican II as the theological high ground – not least conservatives frustrated by how the conciliar documents have been distorted or abused by progressives. But there were very relevant and insightful magisterial documents issued before 1962 as well. 

    This is not an attack on the Council. But it is a little frustrating how discourse in the Church, but by liberals and most conservatives, seems unaware or even disinterested in anything that came before it.   

  • JimBeam

    Liberal dissent came not from Vatican II, but from Humanae Vitae, which was released only a few short years after the close of the counsel.

    Humanae Vitae was unexpected and seen as poorly reasoned and cruel by many theologians and clergy. When they dissented, that opened the floodgates, much like Luther did.

    But the encyclical has worn well over the past 44 years. Theologians, including Pope John Paul II, have produced solid work defending it. Science has given couples with just reasons reliable moral means of avoiding pregnancy without having to resorting to complete abstinence. The concerns of the world have failed to materialize while Pope Paul’s predictions have mostly come true. Put another way, time has largely vindicated the Church and generally rendered the dissent obsolete or irrelevant.

    But old ideas die hard, and clergy formed to believe that God was calling them to protect the flock from a cruel and arbitrary Vatican will not change their minds easily (much less lay Catholics). But the dissenters are getting older and grayer and the growth is among those who want to follow the Church. The problem will solve itself sooner than we think.

  • mikekurz

    Sandra ….the revelation of the Church  is always toward  “The Truth”, which is God and is immutable.  The Truth is always ‘the Truth’ it can be nothing else…whereas “a personal truth” can change, and ususally does based on the desires of the person.  The Holy Ghost moves everyone to The Truth and reveals it.  So the Church does not have the power to change in any direction…but only towards the Truth.   You seem to speak of  ‘relativism’, a heresy…a belief not leading to The Truth.  Many liberal Catholics are lost in that heresy, like the dying orders of nuns and priests…they bought into their personal truths, not The Truth.  Anything that goes away from The Truth is dying, towards The Truth is living

  • peeski

    Zuzana – let us not miss the fact that the United Methodist Church as of this past month is one of the few Mainstream protestant groups that has managed to hold off the approval of Gay Marriage.  God bless them for holding on to the truth along with the Catholic Church.  it seems the teachings of John Wesley also have holding power.  Teachers at Universities tend to be on the liberal front regardless of whether they are secular or religious institutions.  They lack the knowledge of living in the real world.  I am proud to say my cousin just graduated from the Methodist Seminary there this month.  Now she needs to get out and work in the real world to grow her faith.

  • The historical ignorance on display below would be laughable if it weren’t so poisonous.

    In 1900 — take the date for the sake of convenience — there was not a single organization of any appreciable size that gave to women as many places of responsibility and honor as did the Catholic Church.  That is historical fact.  The Church used to be mocked BECAUSE of its emphasis upon the goodness of the feminine genius; it was Luther who said, half in jest, that women should remain barefoot and pregnant.

    So now, a century later, the Church has embraced the wider participation of women in the world of work, and defends women’s rights in many embattled places the world over.  But because she holds still to a view on sexual congress that just about everybody agreed on three or four days ago, she is called “misogynistic.”  It amazes me how plain the facts of the matter are, and how many people miss them.  For every stupid man who thinks his wife should be a “baby machine” — which, by the way, is a really ugly and insulting term; after all, you do get at least something of incomparable worth by childbirth — there are a thousand women right now who actually argue in public that men are not needed at all, or who reduce their role in the family to that of a paycheck which may better be supplied by the government. 

    But it is the collapse of the family, thanks to the sexual revolution, that exposes poor women to such great moral and physical danger. 

    • Athelstane

      Well said, Tony.

  • Tout

    Thanks, Sister MA.  For years I show Catholicism to the people, pray openly the rosary at statue of O. Lady downtown(good weather),hang sign “Whether glad, sad or wary, pause a while, say a Hail Mary” Several pedestrians came to touch the statue. A young man(21 ?)came,prayed, left.A girl(19 ?)knelt on the ground,prayed, left.A woman joined me in praying the last part of the rosary.An older woman came, prayed,left.Maybe I should do it always at te same weekday/time.Parishes should have a cross or statue outside where Catholics can come,say a prayer,thus evangelizing.Not knowing how to start a procession,I walked 6 times alone, praying a rosary.The 7th time(2005)a mother and son joined me. In 2008 (me 88 years),young mother took over;beautiful procession,praying,singing,  carrying big Mary statue, then Mary-crowning in church. 50 people walking in the rain.Catholics, dare to pray openly. Before eating in restaurant, make sign of cross, even when with others who don’t.I wear wooden 3 cm cross over my clothes. 4 people told me “I like your little cross”. Always received H.Host on tongue, even when 2 priests tried to open my hands. Please Catholics, receive on tongue,not in hand. Knights of Colombus only like their uniform. Real Knights would receive God on tongue.  Catholic Women League should receive on tongue, a sign of their personal love for God. Truth is, they all will probably find an excuse. I’ll stop, but please, always receive on tongue. A point where we all can start to bring live to our Faith in God. Evangelize ! Ave Maria. 

  • Reets46

    Blessed JPPII’s prophecy of  a “new springtime” can’t come soon enough, but we all know what comes before spring…winter.  Let’s hope we are living in the worst of the winter and beginning to see new shoots of life coming up through the frozen ground.  The young people who are responding to God’s call to the priesthood and to religious life are not wasting their time with “dead” orders.  They are looking for the real thing and they are on fire with God’s spirit.  Those white martyrs must use their time to pray for the new life in the Church.  God will bless them.

    • John200

      Yes, spring is on the way. As was so often the case, JP II was right on the money. Ditto B XVI. They share an uncanny ability to see the way forward in truth, right through the smog, the clutter, and the doubletalk. I am proud to be led by such men.

      The faithful will have their reward. You can see the trend forming in the seminaries and the younger priests. My parish has been blessed with a young priest, 35 years old, fully equipped with the right stuff. We also have a visiting seminarian each summer. The last three have been “the real thing.”

      The nuns will come back in numbers because religious life is extremely attractive to those women who have the call. More will discern the call when they see what the un-called for (that’s a joke, liberals, laugh! It’s OK, you can laugh) has brought us.

      One more note needs to be sounded, then I’ll lay off for awhile. The unfaithful, like the faithful, will have their reward. I pray that they see it coming and repent.

  • Suzannem

    What arrogance! I’ve had 24 years of Catholic education and am speechless at the hubris you display. This is one website I won’t come back to.

    • J G

       Proof that Catholic “education” is no longer really “Catholic.” You have been so indoctrinated that you can’t comprehend the truth when you encounter it.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  • ActivistWannabe

    “subjects that are mostly prudential (such as economic policy) ”

    Most matters of economic policy today are not prudential. St. Thomas Aquinas has explicitly condemned the graduated income tax, and tyranny more generally. Tyranny includes price controls, subsidies, mandates, high taxes, and handouts, at least. No Catholic government could have any part in such things, and no Catholic can ever consent to such without committing a sin that is probably grave (and likely mortal.)